Senator Enzi from Wyoming just spoke on the Senate floor opposing the Paycheck Fairness Act, arguing that the Act’s damages and class action provisions are bad for business. In reality, the Paycheck Fairness Act simply levels the playing field for women and updates the Equal Pay Act to make it more like other anti-discrimination laws. Racial and ethnic minorities can already seek full compensation for the harms they suffer as a result of pay discrimination. The Paycheck Fairness Act will ensure that women can, too. And the Paycheck Fairness Act simply ensures that women can participate in class actions under the Equal Pay Act, as they can under Title VII. It would not extend class action procedures beyond what is already available under other anti-discrimination statutes.
Senator Enzi’s opposition to the Act is too bad for Wyoming women. Women in Wyoming are doing the worst among the states, earning just 66 cents for every dollar a man makes. In addition to the wage gap, 11% of women compared to 7% of men in Wyoming were in poverty in 2009. More families are also relying on safety net programs. For example, more than 35,500 people relied on food stamps in August of this year, up 20% over the previous year. Finally, the unemployment rate in Wyoming in September was 6.8%, a 143% increase since the recession began in 2007. Women and their families in Wyoming can’t afford to go another year without paycheck fairness.